Denton Campus Theatre to Show Evita

The musical Evita will be performed at the Denton Campus Theatre Friday, Feb. 23. The musical features songs such as “Don't Cry For Me, Argentina,” which was right where director Kyle West headed when he found out he had been tapped to direct the show. He hopped on a plane to Buenos Aires to see the historical sites and experiences that surround the central character, historical figure, and determined leader Eva Perón. It was West's exploration of Argentina that helped him develop a personal connection to the show.

Eva's Tomb was one of the sites West visited on his trip. While exploring experiences such as tango dancing and witnessing how the New Year is celebrated in Argentina with more focus on family rather than fireworks, West said seeing Eva's Tomb was one of the most moving experiences of his trip. It was the part of the trip where he truly connected that the musical is about a real person. Being able to see the tomb was a life-changing moment for West. Even though he isn't a huge fan of things like cemeteries, he had to see the tomb. This in turn provided a personal connection to the work.

”I’m completely captivated in learning about the history of Eva Perón and the people of Argentina, which shapes my perspective on this show daily,” West said. “One of the most bizarre and thrilling facts I’ve studied so far is the disappearance of Eva’s body after she passed and the 20-year timeline leading up to her eventual burial. This is only briefly mentioned in the show, but if I could put aside a full week to research this, I’d be glued to my computer until I read everything I possibly could.”

The direction West took with the musical focuses on the determined leadership of Eva rather than her rise to authority. He also decided to stage the musical in a new way rather than the traditional staging of the show, where the narrator is portrayed as military theorist Che Guevara, who did not have any relationship to Perón. Aside from the history of the staged productions of Evita, West sees this show as an incredible piece of theater with the rock score created by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  

The musical begins with 15-year-old Eva and follows her until she turns 33. The musical follows her through her young desire to escape and become an actress, and later activist, to when she later becomes wife to Juan Perón, a military leader who becomes president of Argentina.

“If you look deeper into the facts that the show is based on, Eva really was a major advocate for the low-income Argentina community, for the rights of women, and for anyone who otherwise did not have a voice,” West said. “I’ve really connected with how misunderstood I feel Eva’s legacy has been. No matter how many lives Eva touched, her motivation has endlessly been challenged for no fair reason.”

West said he felt Eva really never lost where she came from. Throughout her successes, West felt Eva had a way of staying true to her roots. Even during her highest moments of fame, she took the time to sit and talk to people. It was these values West viewed as admirable.  

“Historically, men have not been quite held to standards quite as high as we’ve set for women,” West said. “I think Eva’s story is especially timely as our country continues to grow to better understand and support the amazing females in all of our lives.”

West said within his show, the lead actress playing Eva (Alena Cardenez) has the most nuanced, vulnerable take on Eva he has ever seen, and she manages to sing powerfully while speaking very clearly.

Many people have polarized views of Eva and West found this fascinating.

“Were Eva alive today,” West said. “I’m confident that she’d be better celebrated as a feminist than she was in the late 1940’s [to] early 1950s.”

With all the hard work West mentions they did, he said the audience is really going to be the cherry on top.

Header image by Christopher Rodgers